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Posted: November 02, 2012

Top Company winner: Donor Alliance

Lisa Ryckman

HEALTH CARE

Donor Alliance

When Tyler lost his own life, he saved five others.

His parents, Larry and Debbie, learned about the man who received Tyler’s heart from letters forwarded through Donor Alliance, the nonprofit organ procurement organization serving Colorado and Wyoming. Facilitating correspondence between transplant recipients and donor families is just one way Donor Alliance helps people heal from devastating loss, and it’s just one piece of the organization’s complex and emotionally charged mission.

"Every day, when the phone rings, it means someone has died or is near death, and we take that and try to turn it into something positive," CEO Sue Dunn says. "Our mission is why people choose to work here, and it’s why they stay."

That mission – to save lives through organ and tissue donation and transplantation – involves family approach and recovery programs in more than 100 hospitals, as well as promoting donor registration through education, community partnerships and public outreach.

The proof of Donor Alliance’s efficacy is in the numbers: Colorado is one of the top five states in the nation for registered donors. But the numbers also reflect the magnitude of the organization’s challenge: Only one out of 100 hospital deaths results in a suitable donor candidate – people who have succumbed to head injuries. The nonprofit’s best year: 135 organ donors.

"The numbers are really small, because we all lead really much safer lives than we used to," Dunn says.

Success involves timely notification by the organization’s partner hospitals, quick decisions by families and getting people to sign up as donors when there’s no emergency, so that their wishes are known and respected.

Difficult conversations, difficult decisions. And stewardship of a gift – the gift of life – that Donor Alliance treats with consummate care.

That was the case for Tyler’s parents, who have become friends with Bill, the man who is alive because of their son’s heart – and Donor Alliance.

"Tyler’s spirit," Bill says, "is alive and well, right here."

Lisa Ryckman is the Associate Editor/Online at ColoradoBiz. Contact her at lryckman@cobizmag.com.

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